CHICAGO-General Growth Properties executives will meet with retailers at this year’s ICSC Spring Convention in Las Vegas later this month, primarily to review the chains’ activity in the REIT’s 200 malls across the country. They will focus on portfolio lease-renewal activity for the rest of this year through 2009, said Robert Michaels, the company’s president and chief operating officer, during its Q1 conference call.

“Our focus at the convention is on our portfolio-renewal process,” he says. “We are much more productive than simply scheduling individual appointments every half hour.”

Right now, he says, the company will focus on finding available space for expanding retailers in existing centers. Many of the expansions are by existing chains with new concepts coming out, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Cheesecake Factory and J. Crew, Michaels says.

During the conference call he also touched on plans to expand The Grand Canal Shoppes, General Growth’s mall in the Venetian resort-casino. At that property the company is adding 450,000-sf of retail, including a flagship store for Barneys New York, in an expansion called the Shoppes at the Palazzo.

“The opportunity to do something there over the long term is absolutely fabulous,” Michaels says. “We continue to work on this very aggressively.”